Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Feed the Spirit...Starve the Flesh

"Feed the Spirit not the flesh...feed the Spirit not the flesh!!!!" Makes me think of a scene in the Muppet Christmas Carol....oh, I'm digressing before I even begin! Seriously.....

Sometimes I beat myself up because of the selfishness that I seem to have little control over. I can have an awesome day in the Lord, great Bible study, intimate prayer, deep revelation. He can convict me, restore me, and lift me to the highest heights...and it only takes one incident, one moment, one injustice and all that spiritual food I just digested begins to sour in my stomach as the flesh starts taking over. It is so easy to forget the beauty of the moment. So easy to get sidetracked...so easy to start focusing on what I want instead of what God wants for me.

I try to focus on scriptures that tell me to focus on what is good, and lovely...and I resent the very words that will heal. This is the battlefield for my mind...every minute..every day.

Life has a way of feeding the flesh. People say things that hurt, finances crumble, relationships die. I place my worth in what others think and say and forget that God's esteem is so much more rewarding and lasting. My deeds will never earn the respect of others. No matter how much I do or say, I will never measure up. People will always complain, find fault, and point out flaws. As I struggle to please people, I l exhaust myself physically, emotionally, and spiritually until I am bankrupt...and still I am criticized. That's just human nature. It's what people do..even the nicest people do this! I do this to other people! So, why do people seek the esteem of others when all we have to do to receive God's esteem is to desire it with all our heart?

I only have to truly seek to please my God with all my heart. I don't have to perfect pleasing God...I only have to seek His esteem over others...and in that alone He will be pleased. In that alone He honors. What? Being honored by God? Isn't it supposed to be the other way around...well, that's just the kind of God He is! That in itself is a reward beyond measure...a freedom that has no boundaries...yet it is so difficult to do. Why?

Is it because it requires faith like a child? My sister read something to me last night that I have pondered over and over. As we mature in the flesh, we become more dependent on ourselves. As we mature in the Spirit...we become less dependent on ourselves and more dependent on God. We begin to realize just how helpless we really are apart from Him. I must be maturing because I am realizing more and more every day how little I can do apart from Him (umm His Word says that I can do nothing)....and I am discovering more and more how much I need Him..His words...constantly planted and deeply rooted in my heart, soul, and mind..feeding my Spirit and starving my flesh! That is where my strength comes from. That is how I will grow. It can't be in spurts...it has to be constant..when I wake up, when I lie down, when I eat, sleep, drink, sleep, drive, work, visit with friends, talk on the phone...

When I am not feeding the Spirit...I am not starving the flesh...so I must never stop feeding my Spirit. I know it and it's obvious in my actions, conversation, and thoughts when I am starving my Spirit and feeding my flesh.

I can't feed the flesh and be satisfied...anymore than I can make every person like me all the time. But I need only hunger for Christ and his esteem to be satisfied beyond measure.

So, why should it ever be a battle? Because I do not have to seek evil...it seeks me out. And, although God is there, sometimes He does not make His presence obvious because He wants us to seek Him out....and if I seek Him with all my heart...I do find Him..and I am filled. He hears my cries and He answers. Then, I have to stay focused (I can't even do that apart from a miracle). If I just glance away for one moment...I find myself feeding the flesh yet again.

This is my confession. This is the battle of every single God fearing human being. Read about it in the Word of God. Read about Daniel, Noah, Moses, Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Sarah, Esther, Job, David, Peter, Paul.....God's prophets and apostles were not even exempt from being human.

This is the greatest thing because....Christ died. He took our punishment so therefore...there is no more condemnation...NO GUILT! NO SHAME! Nosireeebob! He took all that.

The only thing God wants for us to have about our mess ups is conviction and repentence...anything else is not from Him. Christ absorbed that on the Cross. Wow, talk about injustice. Okay...I'm starting to ramble...so what?

So, I mess up! So, maybe I talked too much or too loud. Maybe I say dingy things sometimes, maybe I do dumb things...alot! Maybe I gossip, and maybe I hurt people...maybe I get convicted..maybe I will repent...maybe I do desire to please God and maybe I want His esteem more than any other..maybe I don't...maybe I will grow deeper in Him with every forgiven mistake...and maybe I'll have to start all over again tomorrow...Thank God His mercies are new EVERY morning and His love for me never changes...He will never love me more than yesterday or less than tomorrow. He will never love me less than He did from the Cross, or when He was creating the Earth...or than in this very moment. He loves me perfectly...always has...and always will...and I can only love that way when I feed the Spirit and starve the flesh.

Oh God...make me hunger to please You. When my heart is focused on what people think about me, it is not seeking to please you...I am feeding my flesh.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Spring Survives!!!!

This morning, as I drove into work, I was taken aback by the beautiful spring scenery before me. The trees’ blossoms resembled the snow that covered their barren limbs just a week ago! It’s hard to believe that everything was under a frozen blanket so recently and still spring is bursting forth right on schedule as usual! (I don’t know about you, but I find that pretty exciting!)

While I was absorbing the beauty of the morning, my thoughts were drawn to one solitary buttercup that had blossomed by my front porch for the first time this year. After several days of frigid temperatures, and being buried under a blanket of snow, I recalled glancing the flower just yesterday, still alive and just as beautiful as if the cold and snow never happened. As I marveled about this, my mind was directed to Matthew 6:25-30:

“Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body what you will wear. Is not life more important than food, and the body more important than clothes? Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to his life? And why do you worry about clothes? See how the lilies of the field grow. They do not labor or spin. Yet, I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these. If that is how god clothes the grass of the field, which is here today and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, will he not much more clothe you, O you of little faith?”

I often find myself losing sleep worrying over things that I should be trusting God to deal with. When it finally becomes overwhelming, as a last resort, I fall to my knees (when it should have been my first instinct). Philippians 4:6-7 tells us to make our requests known to God and then peace will settle our hearts and minds in Christ. It is only after I have laid my burdens before Him that I find peace and rest. We are in such a time of economic and social crisis in our world. It is likely that even the strongest in faith will be tempted to worry. Let the words of God be a constant reminder in these difficult times; to fall down before our Savior and let Him carry the weight of your burden because his burden is light (Matt. 11:30).

Friday, March 06, 2009

Guilt Free Prayer

I read a section called Lament in Yancey's book "Prayer" last night that was profound, well, at least to me.
"A dead-end marriage that seems to offer no way out. A surly teenager who saps the family finances and shows resentment, not appreciation...Global terrorism, a national election that goes the wrong way. A bitter and divided church. A parent with dementia. Each of these circumstances rightly calls for prayers of lament." (I could add a few things to this list that affect me personally, just like you the reader could I'm sure.)
I just always feel guilty praying about things like that, like I'm complaining and/or ticked off, which are things I, a Christ follower, should not be. I'm supposed to be grateful for all my blessings, instead, all I see sometimes is the negative, everything that is going wrong and how life isn't fair. He went on to say:
"Robertson McQuilkin, as patient a man as I know, confessed the temptation to scream at, even slap, his Alzheimer's-afflicted wife when irritation reached a certain level."
I KNOW THAT IRRITATION LEVEL! I feel like I live there almost daily for at least part of the day anyway!
Prayer offers a better alternative, just as the psalms' fierce prayers against enemies offer a better alternative than personal revenge. We need feel no guilt over such prayers of frustration, for God welcomes them."
I tried to pray guilt free last night. I didn't come natural at all.
"When I struggle with guilt, I find that inner conversation revolving around myself: attempt to rationalize or explain away my behavior, resentment against others who caused it, feelings of self-pity and remorse. Only confession can clear away that self-absorption and open my spirit to God's soft voice."
The confession part is big. Possibly where I'm stuck. Which leads to guilt. That Yancey dude wrote down MY thinking! LOL

What I read last night just kept swirling and swirling in my head all night and is still there this morning. I shall ponder it awhile longer.

Tuesday, March 03, 2009

In Not Of

"...for they are not of the world any more than I am of the world." (John 17:14)
"They are not of the world, even as I am not of it." (John 17:16)
Christians are not of this world. We are to live a life that is holy, or "set apart", and pleasing to the Lord.
"Jesus said, "My kingdom is not of this world...'" (John 18:36)
We love Jesus because He first loved us. He invited us to join Him in His Kingdom and those who chose life, who chose Jesus, are to live a life worthy of the Kingdom.
"If you belonged to the world, it would love you as its own. As it is, you do not belong to the world, but I have chosen you out of the world." (John 15:19)
As Christians, our lives should reflect our Kingdom values. Our lives should be "set apart", they should be holy lives.
"Do not love the world or anything in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For everything in the world—the cravings of sinful man, the lust of his eyes and the boasting of what he has and does—comes not from the Father but from the world." (1 John 2:15-16)
I've been thinking about being "in" and not "of" the world a lot recently. I've pointed the finger at myself because I realize I am so eager to throw stones. I've been examing how I'm working out my salvation.

I've been asking myself what does salvation look like? What does living a holy life look like? Does it look the same to everyone?

I believe that a Christian's life should look different than a non-Christian's life,

"A life that is totally and completely dependent on God will always look different!"

just as Jesus' life looked different to the non-believers of His day. His disciple's lives looked different too. A life that is totally and completely dependent on God will always look different! A person who loves the Lord with all his heart, soul, mind and strength, will live a life that expresses that relationship and I really don't see how it can be avoided.

I believe that if I grabbed a person off the street and had them spend the day with a non-believer, and then another whole day with a Christian, that those days would, or should, look different to the person off the street.

I consider whether my life looks different? I think some things do. Somethings, unfortunately do not. Other things, I know aren't different...especially my thought life.

What kind of things do I fill my life with that reflects the fact that I dwell in His Kingdom? There are a few different things about my life that I would say shows that I am not "of" this world. One is that I am very discerning about what music I listen to. I choose to listen to mainly Christian music, and music that carries positive messages. It's been quite awhile since I purchased anything secular. The radio is tuned to Christian music stations and mostly talk radio, but I listen mainly to my CDs which contain music that edify and glorifies God.

Television is another aspect in my Christian walk that has really changed. Basically, I haven't watched tv since 1999. I have a tv in the house, but no cable, which means we can receive one channel, the local ABC affiliate. I don't watch it. No one here really does, except now and then the news and Katie does enjoy Lost. I don't think the kids are being deprived either, at least not watching tv keeps them from being depraved!

I do watch movies, but again, I am very discerning about what I watch. I won't go to movies rated above PG-13, and I usually "screen" movies at Plugged In before going to view any. The movies I watch at home used to be Clean Films versions, until they were forced out of business. Still, we try to avoid movies that glamorize sex and/or violence, and have no redeeming value at all.

I am selective about what I read as well. Most of my reading material consists of Bible studies, theological studies and apologetics, and devotional material. Lately though, I haven't been reading enough of that stuff! I also read Discipleship Journal magazine and enjoy Reader's Digest, and other Christian magazines I subscribe to. I do read a lot of blogs too!

Then comes my finger pointing. One way I do NOT do very well with leading a holy

"As a Christian, our bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit"

life is giving my body as a living sacrifice. I am not big on excercising and should probably do better taking care of this body. I need to improve in my eating habits. I consciously try to eat healthier foods, fruit instead of snickers bars, and water, instead of Coke, and did well for awhile, but do you realize how much easier it is to find a candy bar instead of fruit when you are hungry and trying to hold out until dinner? And I'm not very good with the water drinking! As a Christian, our bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit and how we care for them should reflect that fact. I am very convicted.

I'm not always the tidiest person around either. I wonder sometimes if Christians should work a bit harder to maintain a clutter-free life and keep things simple. I pile things. Mail piles up all over the counter and my clothes pile up on my dresser. This is definitely an area I need to improve in and should, since I should be preparing for my mansion in paradise!

Another area of my life that is probably not serving Christ well all the time is the addiction I have to this computer and the Internet! I don't do anything "bad" on here, it is just possible that I spend too much time here and not with God. Katie keeps reprimanding me for making this an "idol". ugh. She's probably right.

I wonder sometimes what my life looks like to other people. I wonder if they can actually see that I live for God? I do believe it should be noticeable, and if it isn't, maybe I'm living too much like the world.

I am in this world, not of it. The world should "hate" me. If the world doesn't hate me, it is quite possible that I look too much like it.

Sunday, March 01, 2009

Louie Giglio - Laminin

I saw this video months and months ago, but watched it again today. It is just too cool to not pass on! I highly encourage you to view this for the next nine minutes, you won't be disappointed.